WE ARE BEING ABUSED AT CHINESE MINES newsdzeZimbabweNewsdzeZimbabwe

WE ARE BEING ABUSED AT CHINESE MINES newsdzeZimbabweNewsdzeZimbabwe

Trade unions have pointed to deteriorating labor standards in Chinese lithium mines.

Chinese investors own most of Zimbabwe’s best-producing lithium mines.

These companies are Sinomine Resource Group Co Ltd which owns Bikita Minerals, Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Company Ltd, the parent company of Arcadia Mines, and Suzhou TA&A Ultra Clean Technology Co Ltd which has an interest in Premier’s Zulu Lithium.

During a recent multi-stakeholder conference organized by the Center for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG), Secretary-General of the Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Workers Union (ZDAMWU), Justice Chinhema, noted deteriorating working conditions in Chinese-owned mines.

He said there was a complete disregard for health and safety standards while extracting lithium.

“Chinese investors do not respect the rights of workers in this sector, and we need to make routine visits to their mining sites given their history of labor abuses. The jobs these investments create are not tied to any standards, but to cheap, free, self-created labor supported by our government.” sometimes.

“The current situation in the lithium sector is very sad, and if it is not addressed urgently we will face another wave of colonialism, slavery and cheap and free labour. As workers and as a trade union, we support systems that balance power between capital and labor through methods that ensure the improvement, promotion and protection of workers’ rights and interests.” Which is characterized by economic equality, good governance, and justice for all in society.

He said about 5,000 employees were working at lithium mining companies in Zimbabwe under restricted working conditions in a “wave of colonialism, cheap labor and human rights violations.”

Additionally, ZDAMWU claims that Chinese-owned mining companies are offering employees fixed, short-term contracts while ending subcontracting with indigenous black companies and favoring Chinese companies linked to parent mining companies for rudimentary services.

ZDAMWU found that the marginalization of locally owned enterprises in the provision of basic services including stone crushing and compaction represents a disadvantage in local value addition and capitalization opportunities.

“One of the things about subcontracting is that the Chinese bring in associates and they terminate the contracts of the black parent companies and give subcontracts to companies associated with the parent companies in China,” Chinhema said.

The CNRG found unequal employment opportunities in the mining sector, male dominance, and sexual exploitation, necessitating investigation into how transition mineral extraction impacts labor practices.

CNRG’s Deputy Director of Programs, Tracy Mutoykozeva, said the labor challenges in the sector are not limited to formally employed workers but extend to child labor and exploitation of women in the lithium sector.

“There are reports of forced labour, child labor and exploitation of vulnerable populations, which further exacerbates the suffering of these communities,” she said.

“Our role as a civic organization is to engage with government institutions, policy makers and industry stakeholders to advocate for policy reforms that promote transparency, accountability and community participation in natural resource management.”

The government has been notified in the past of such practices by Chinese investors, but has been accused of not responding to such concerns given that China is a major investment partner.

According to the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency, China had issued investment licenses worth US$2.79 billion as of the third quarter of last year. Newsday

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